I have been making this butternut squash and aduki bean soup for years, but only recently learned it is considered a “beauty food” by Chinese standards. According to my Chinese friend, it is thought to make the skin soft and blemish-free. The original recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks: Ancient Wisdom Modern Kitchen, which indicates that this soup supports the spleen and kidney system in TCM philosophy.
During the winter, I crave carbs like any decent human being. This year I decided that I wanted to start baking homemade bread. Wanting to do things really super tip-top, I found a place in LA that makes freshly ground whole-wheat flour called Grist & Toll. I found Nan, the owner, to be exceptionally helpful in selecting Sonora flour for me to make a classic Irish sodabread. She even pointed me to her blog for an ace sodabread recipe (I used all Sonora flour instead of Edison and Rye). I paired the sodabread with the Chinese Beauty Soup for a hearty and healthy transcontinental lunch.
It was unutterably delicious. Nan was right – commercial “whole wheat flour” is galaxies apart from the real thing in taste and texture. I can never go back to storebought bread or flour. I am a fully committed flour purist now! This bread goes superbly with Chinese Beauty soup, but is also well-suited to other soups and mains, and even stands alone as a snack (midnight or otherwise). Be sure to check out Grist & Toll if you live in LA, or do a google search to see if there is a flour mill near you 🙂
- 1 butternut squash (about ½ pound), peeled and cubed
- 1 medium onion, diced finely
- 1 inch ginger root, peeled and minced
- 2 cups cooked aduki beans
- 4 TB white or red miso paste
- 1 piece kombu seaweed
- 5-6 cups water
- 2 green onions, diced finely, roots discarded
- 1 TB canola oil
- 1-2 TB soy sauce
- 4 cups Sonora flour
- 1¾ tsp baking soda
- 1½ tsp salt
- 2 cups + 2 TB buttermilk
- Heat the canola oil over medium heat in a soup pot. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until soft, 3-5 minutes.
- Add the beans, kombu and water in the pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the kombu and discard.
- Add the squash to the pot and simmer for 45 minutes. As the squash softens, use a spoon to break it up.
- Mix together the miso and 4 TB of warm water. Divide the miso evenly between the bowls.
- Divide the soup evenly among the bowls. Stir well to combine the miso with the soup. Garnish with green onion and serve.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine all the dry ingredients and mix well with your hands.
- Add all except 2 TB buttermilk to the dry ingredients and use a spatula to combine all ingredients. When everything has come together, then use your hands to form the dough into a ball. Turn out to a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes.
- Form the dough into a ball and use your hands to flatten the top slightly. Brush the top and sides with the remaining 2 TB buttermilk. Use a knife to cut a large X indent into the top (not too deep - it will deepen further as it bakes).
- Bake about 45-50 minutes or until the crust is a nice golden brown. Remove and let cool before serving.
- Note that this bread should be eaten within 3-4 days. Remainder can be wrapped tightly in parchment, covered and sealed in a Ziploc bag, and frozen.
Kohler, N. (2015, March 15). The Simplest Things and Two Treasures. Retrieved December 2, 2015, from http://www.gristandtoll.com/
Wang, Y., Sheir, W., & Ono, M. (2010). Ancient Wisdom, Modern Kitchen: Recipes from the East for Health, Healing and Long Life. Cambridge: Da Capo Press.